Remarkable and entertaining, Black Is King is a visual stunner that embodies the very essence of Africa from its heart, to the bellowing rhythms, and rich pride steeped in tradition, honor, and so much more. Spanning all over the world, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter impressively gathers Black talent from clothing designers to hairstylists and even directors, for this modern reimagining of the Disney classic, The Lion King.
With music as the gateway, affluent videos from the audio companion “The Lion King: The Gift,” and memorable quotes from Mufasa (James Earl Jones), Nala (Beyoncé Knowles-Carter) and more, Black Is King weaves all of these things together effortlessly with new talent and interpretations that breathe new life into an old favorite.
As a Black American woman, many layers come with living in this body and walking in my truth, but the richness bestowed upon myself and the brethren that share in my ancestry, is rooted in immense pride, joy, and love that I feel to have this heritage and to be a part of this sacred community. Black Is King portrays a freedom in Blackness that is not often publicly celebrated or even allowed. The film fuses lyrics, musical tones, textures, dances, and colors in an otherworldly combination that seeks to acknowledge and honor our beloved ancestors. Oftentimes without saying a word, Black Is King respects and observes those that sacrificed and paved the way for our present, while simultaneously encouraging us to stand in our sacred truths today.
Showcasing Black excellence, beauty, and resilience, Black Is King is a celebration for us, and a beautiful body of Black art for everyone to consume and enjoy, but for us to truly delight in its cultural meaning. Through the lens of African spirituality and the fusion of timeless & unique hairstyles partnered with bold fashions designed by us, the visuals reflect the royalty that courses that our veins, the brilliance that is braided into our DNA, the talent that begets fads, and the love that overflows from our hearts. Black Is King is healing, not only allowing us to dialogue within our community about how to rise above trauma and create new hopes, but it also allows us to center our own beauty and praise ourselves for all that we have given and continue to offer this world. Reconciling what was stripped away and coming full circle for what is here and to come.
Beyoncé makes many statements throughout the film, but the one that stuck with me the most was: “To live without reflection for so long, might make you wonder if you even truly exist.” This is true, as I watched in fullness, it was not lost on me that seeing images like this in my lifetime have been few and far in between. While we continue to rise out the ashes of the erasure of our historical truths, rebuilding what was lost moment by moment, Black Is King will luckily give generations to come images and art to go back to over and over again, seeing themselves fully reflected in their purest forms, and letting them know that anything is possible and the sky is the limit.
Paying homage to Madam C.J. Walker, the 1998 Black iconic Hype Williams’s film Belly, and even seeing traces of Disney’s Princess and the Frog during “Brown Skin Girl,” I triumphed in the fact that every single piece of this film was clearly intentional. Not just in the selection of artists, but also in the formatting that shifts seamlessly from documentary style to traditional framing at any second, adding more depth to the words and reclaiming of our reflections. My heart leaped at the graceful images of my melanated people, often shamed, overlooked, or talked down to simply because their skin tone is too rich, getting the appreciation it deserves. Kissed by a hue that most secretly revels in awe, it was gratifying to see a global project intentionally center this type of beauty, our beauty, and shift the international cultural perception and beauty standards.
So, as you watch, take in every sight and scene, every sunset, moon, and waterfall. Take in every piece of fabric and vibrant color, and let it be known that each plays a significant role in shifting how we view Africa, the people that rise from this glorious continent, the extraordinary and quintessential fruit that it bears and the ecological preservation that is necessary moving forward. With themes in sight or sound about conservation, cultural appreciation, body positivity, generational trauma & healing, and what Black success means. Black Is King once again takes a little Black girl from Houston, Texas, and puts her in a position to help start conversations while continuing to build upon her ever-growing legacy. And I will always support a little Black girl from Houston with a dream because that little girl is reflective of me.
Check out Black Is King, streaming now, only on Disney+!